By Yuls Sanchez (Davao, Philippines)
batman-superman-civil-war

 

2016 features a lot of comic book heroes in the media that fans and audiences are genuinely thrilled; from Marvel’s Deadpool on the big screen to Netflix’s Daredevil on stream and from DC’s animated adaptation of the highly-praised comic, The Killing Joke to the iconic ensemble feature film of the Suicide Squad. Aside from these treats are two of the most anticipated films from the two largest comic book film universes; MCU’s Captain America: Civil War and DCEU’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. With the two films already out this time, fans came wild to cheer on their respective film choice. It’s safe to say that both films are entertaining, thrilling, and worth the admission. I, myself, spent three tickets for each film and I don’t regret any. I was entertained by both films as a fan and an audience but as a fan of filmmaking and film writing, I looked deeply into the vital angles and both of these films have its strengths and faults. From the story to the characters, take a look on my opinions and point of views in the different areas of these films by the count. Take note that I am neither a Marvel nor DC fanboy, just a regular guy who cares so much about these films.

***WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD***

 

STORY

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice branches out from the events of Man of Steel’s (2013) third act; Kal El and General Zod’s destruction of Metropolis. Bruce Wayne’s narrative in the film’s plot is driven by this event which goaded him to wear his cape once again. Meanwhile, Captain America: Civil War sets off from the events of The Avengers: Age of Ultron’s (2015) climax; from Stark’s guilt, Ross’s accords proposal, Zemo’s vengeance, to Barton’s retirement. The real question is: “Which film handled it better?” With both films almost sharing almost the same prologues, it is a fair to relate these films in this aspect.

For Bruce Wayne to plot against Superman because of the destruction is superficial to turn it into a personal feud. Even how they were directed to the titular fight is completely ridiculous. Batman wants Supes to bleed while Clark is forced to take the Bat’s head for his mother. Given the films entirely dark and joyless tone, this is very ill and shallow for two iconic heroes to be pitted against each other.

Take a look at how the Civil War title rolled out in Cap’s film. Ever since The Avengers (2012), Cap and Tony always had conflict and friction in their ideologies. After the events in Age of Ultron, comes the Sokovia Accords proposed by General Ross to the Avengers. This is a solid ground for the characters to express each other’s breath towards the matter. Every character, including the minorities, are confronted by the predicament and as an MCU film with joy and wit, Captain America: Civil War’s plot turns out to be a dark and serious story; especially Bucky’s storyline. Nothing in the film’s plot points sounded ineptly placed at all.

CIVIL WAR [1] – [0] DAWN OF JUSTICE

 

MAIN CHARACTERS

Both films featured well-known comic book characters. Batman v Superman highlighted the Trinity (Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman) which is more than just a treat to solid fans. To see them in the big screen was always a dream. The hype even elevated when they are against the greatest threat to Superman, Doomsday. The road to this magnificence might be off but it doesn’t take the audience away from the pleasure of seeing these characters in a huge film.

The Civil War series in Marvel Comics is a massive event which incorporates most of the Marvel Heroes roster divided into two sides according to their stand on the Superhero Registration Act. Captain America: Civil War is loosely based on that source and even borrowed the title. We still have the central characters in the film: Team Cap, Team Iron Man, Spider-Man, Cross Bones, and Sharon Carter. It still feels like the comics.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice promised and presented Batman and Superman while Captain America: Civil War gave us a frustrating and discounted adaptation of the comic with lesser characters and smaller action pieces that doesn’t disappoint.

CIVIL WAR [1] – [1] DAWN OF JUSTICE

 

FEATURED CHARACTERS

Wonder Woman is a very great addition to the Dawn of Justice aspect of Batman v Superman. She may not be a central character but she certainly played a huge part especially in establishing Wayne’s narrative and character as well as assisting Superman in his standoff against Doomsday in the climactic battle. Wonder Woman also raised the audience’s anticipation for her upcoming solo film.

Civil War featured a fresh character, Black Panther, and established his own world as well. Like Wonder Woman in Dawn of Justice, T’Challa is not a central character but is a crucial addition to the entirety of the film’s plot and audiences and fans are also excited for his own solo film in the MCU.

Both characters affect their respective films deeply. Both characters gave us satisfying action pieces while displaying their abilities as their preludes. Both are organic to their respective film’s plot, theme, and tone. Both are handled well as characters in their films.

CIVIL WAR [2] – [2] DAWN OF JUSTICE

 

ANTAGONIST

Both films might have their poster with the heroes pitted against each other but this is not the only conflict presented in both films. Lex orchestrated the titular fight in Batman v Superman while Zemo hurled revenge to the Avengers by tearing them apart.

Lex Luthor in Dawn of Justice works his way into the film’s plot by conspiring against Superman from taking his mother, Martha, and creating Doomsday to eventually take him out.

Meanwhile, Zemo is a Russian soldier who lost his family during the Sokovia incident in Age of Ultron. He then dedicated himself in breaking Cap and Stark’s relationship by revealing The Winter Soldier’s involvement in the death of the Starks and Cap’s awareness about details about it.

Lex succeeded with his plans by killing Superman and alerting potential threats in the DC Universe as Zemo also did by leaving the Avengers broken. Both of them were actually exiled in their respective film’s conclusions. The big difference between Lex and Zemo is MOTIVATIONS. Zemo has a simple but deep motivation and drive. Zemo is believable and audiences are sympathetic to his character due to his own crude narrative in the film. Meanwhile Lex is a complex character in the film but not in the positive manner to the point where he is bothering the audiences during the film. People aren’t even sure if he is THE Lex Luthor we all know or a son or something. He might have a couple of reasons why he hates Supes but they are unclear and the way he executed his plans are absurd; creating plot holes in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

CIVIL WAR [3] – [2] DAWN OF JUSTICE

 

CAMEOS/MINOR CHARACTERS

Both films are brought up as ensemble films. Civil War works with its infamous set of characters, mostly The Avengers, divided into two teams for the titular event while Dawn of Justice teases the Justice League with a set of cameos to be developed in future films.

In Dawn of Justice, Wayne encrypted Luthor’s files only to be recovered by Wonder Woman. She then discovered an initiative where Metahumans are being tracked down by Luthor. Aqua Man is shown to be underwater, Barry Allen showing off in a convenience store, and Cyborg being created. These footages raised the audiences’ pleasure and expectations for future DCEU films. In a dream sequence, a time-travelling Flash also warned Bruce about Lois and Superman which, in the film, might be a little vital to the whole story but poorly infused.

Meanwhile, Civil War had Tony recruiting Peter Parker as Spider-Man to aid Cap and Bucky’s capture. The post-credits scene also featured Parker being under Stark’s development to be extended in future MCU films. The film also featured Ant-Man recruited by Hawkeye out of his intended retirement to help Cap in hunting down the remaining Winter Soldiers in Russia but interrupted by the epic German airport scene and eventually, to be arrested and isolated into the Raft. All of these are perfectly injected into the film without bothering and taking the audience away from the picture. Nothing felt messy regarding these characters.

CIVIL WAR [4] – [2] DAWN OF JUSTICE

 

It is not that Dawn of Justice doesn’t demonstrate its losing points but only Civil War did it better and even made it work. Both films are watchable. Both films are exciting. Both films have their flaws. Both films are also superb in their own respective ways. It is perfectly fine to prefer the one over the other but on my watch; I would recommend Captain America: Civil War as a better film.

 

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